My Parisian Restaurant Map

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Passion Fruit Syrup

Before I left New Caledonia, I went on a little trip to the market to bring back home whatever delicious things I still had space to stuff in my suitcase.

One such thing was a big bag full of yellow and red passion fruit. This was the first time that I'd actually dealt with the fruit...up until now, I've mostly stuck to ordering passion fruit flavored ice cream or drinks, but I've never handled it in its raw state before. Contrary to popular belief, when the fruits look wrinkly, old and soft is when they're actually ripe. So once they start looking like they're rotting, you know they're ready to eat!

I decided to make a syrup out of the passion fruits, which can then be used either as a drink when diluted in water, as a flavoring for natural yoghurt, or better yet, as a way to spice up a traditional margarita. (2 parts tequila, 1 part triple sec, 1 lime and 1 part passion fruit syrup=a slice of tropical paradise in your Parisian living room).

It's really simple to make and a very nice way to get multiple uses out of your fruit.

The first thing you do is cut up the passion fruit (I had about 10 fruits total)

Then you scoop out all the pulp with a spoon, into a medium size saucepan. Add sugar (according to how sweet you want it, I put about 3/4 cup) and water, about 3/4 cup.
Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to medium, so that it slowly simmers.

Simmer until it has reduced by about half, approximately 30 minutes. Then pass through a sieve to get rid of all the crunchy seeds (which ruin the velvety texture of syrup).

Add to a margarita and enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Caledonia and her Food

I'm going to take a small interlude here and step away from my usual location for a moment.

Having left Paris behind, I ventured East for 24 hours in a plane, until I arrived in luscious, tropical New Caledonia.

The cuisine there is very interesting. It's not so much that I tried new dishes that I had never heard of before, as it is about fresh, local ingredients. Like yellow fin tuna that has been fished 10 km away, prepared in a myriad of different ways (half cooked, sashimi, poelee with shrimps, grilled etc etc etc) Personally I had never eaten 'local' tuna before, because until now I had never been in a country where it was the local fish.

New Caledonian shrimps, (which you can actually find at Carrefour in France) are incredibly special. It was like it was the first time I had really tasted shrimp. I think we must have eaten shrimps almost every day, either bbq-ed, grilled, flambeed in pastis, in coconut curry, in chinese style beignets and the list goes on.

Of course there is also lobster, or langouste.  Rock lobster specifically, not the American kind, so it doesnt have any claws. This was the first time I tried lobster, and I had it just like youre supposed to: with you feet in the sand, a beer in your hand, lazily watching the turquoise waves lap against the white sand beach, while the coconut trees sway in the cool pacific breeze. (As per the cooking of the lobster, it was grilled and brushed with butter, garlic and parsley). In another place, they served the lobster cold, and decorated it with beautiful frangipanier flowers.

Then there are all the amazing fruits, like mangos, passion fruit, papayas, guavas, pineapples and green oranges! In the vegetable spectrum however, things were not really inspiring. Im not a big fan of taro, yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes and inyam, usually all served together in the same dish. Its a little too much starch for me.

I tried my best to document all these culinary wonders.
Here are my pictorial efforts.

The cold lobster decorated with frangipanier flowers

The shrimps flambeed in pastis, with curry and creme fraiche

Chou chou, a local vegetable

Red Papaya

Grilled Lobster on the beach

Green baby bananas, yellow baby bananas and mangoes

The most delicious fresh coriander aka persil chinois

Yam and Sweet Potatoes

Shrimps at the Market

Huge langouste at the Market

Local fish called Becs de Cane

Fresh herbs at the Market

Spring onions at the Market

Sprouting coconuts